Research-based Recovery Information*
for Adult Survivors of Childhood Abuse and Adversity


One of the consequences of childhood abuse and trauma, and especially of complex trauma, can be "emotion dysrgulation" or difficulties with controlling the intensity of emotional response to experiences, or to return the degree of emotional response after a negative experience to "within normal" levels. A measure of emotion regulation wil be set up in the Research Opportunities section of this site, but anyone with this problem won't need to complete this assessment to know if they have problems -- other people are likely to have made comments about it, and the experience itself can be extremely unpleasant and at times disabling -- it's more than just having "strong" feelings. Unsurprisingly, many of those suffering from problems with self-harm, and with substance use difficulties, have difficulties with emotion regulation -- Gratz is one researcher who has carried out extensive research in this area -- for example -- [link]. In addition, Anxiety Sensitivity interacts with Emotion Regulation difficulties in contributing to suffering trauma symptoms -- [link]. Emotion regulation difficulties can also interact with anxiety sensitivity to produce trauma symptoms -- [link]

Consistent with the general therapeutic approach recommended on this site, a guide for therapists to helping clients with emotion regulation difficulties is available for download here -- [link]. Research indicates that psychodynamic therapy using "Mentalization" can further assist clients, in addition to the techniques recommended by Gratz -- [link] -- but that insight-oriented therapies alone are insufficient -- the adverse early childhood experiences produce not only deficits in the ability to recognisse others' emotions, and to regulate one's own emotions, but subcortical changes in the brain so that higher level brain functions can no longer adequately control subcortically-based automatic emotional reactions -- [link], [link], [link].